With the release of the Vatican’s artist list for the Venice Biennale, we finally know which artists are endorsed by God. Turns out, there’s only three.
A small committee headed up by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Roman Catholic Church’s Council for Culture, and Micol Forti, the director of contemporary art at the Vatican Museums, selected artists Josef Koudelka, Studio Azzurro, and the artist Lawrence Carroll to participate in the exhibition which will open later this month at the Arsenale.
All three artists, will show work related to the curatorial theme of “Creation, De-Creation, and Re-Creation”. That theme, as proposed by Cardinal Ravasi, relates to the Book of Genesis:
Specifically, the first eleven chapters have been chosen, as they are dedicated to the mystery of man’s origins, the introduction of evil into history, and our hope and future projects after the devastation symbolically represented by the Flood. Wide-ranging discussions on the multiplicity of the themes offered by this inexhaustible source led to three thematic areas being chosen with which the artists have engaged: Creazione (Creation), De-Creazione (Uncreation), and the New Man or Ri-Creazione (Recreation).
As any curator would be able to tell you, choosing such a wide-ranging theme as “creation” lets you choose almost any artist or any work for your show; practically any and every artwork in the known universe deals with the topic of creation, destruction, and recreation. These are stories older than the Bible itself.
For the lucky three chosen to show off what they know about creation, we’re not given much from the Vatican’s press release. From what we know so far, Studio Azzurro will show “In Principle (and Beyond),” a video documenting the family histories of deaf-mutes and female prison inmates. Josef Koudelka will bring a series of 18 black-and-white photographs. About exile. Carroll will exhibit works that according to the Vatican’s press release, are abstract and “informed” by Arte Povera. None of this sounds uplifting.